5-star hotel in Mumbai taken by surprise with reports of its sale

Administrators of Hilton Airport recently had to issue a statement to clarify that the property was not for sale, and accused a Gujarat-based company and its director for misleading the public

In a bizarre series of events, it has emerged that someone was trying to sell the five-star hotel, Hilton Mumbai International Airport, without the knowledge of its owners. It was only when the hotel administration came upon emails regarding the ‘sale’, that they realised what was going on, and immediately released a statement to clear the air.

The hotel, Hilton Mumbai International Airport is located in Andheri (East) and is currently valued between Rs 475 and Rs 500 crore. Pic/Suresh KK
The hotel, Hilton Mumbai International Airport is located in Andheri (East) and is currently valued between Rs 475 and Rs 500 crore. Pic/Suresh KK

Apart from announcing that the hotel was not for sale, the Hilton group also alleged that a Bijay Kumar Virani was behind the false emails. Virani, the director of Gujarat-based Shree Ram Auto World, yesterday released a public statement, tendering an unconditional apology for the matter.

The 171-room hotel in Andheri (East) was earlier know as Le Royal Meridian and was subsequently rechristened as Hilton Mumbai International Airport. The five-star property is run by the DB Group, owned by the duo Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka. As per earlier reports, the hotel’s market value in 2012 was around Rs 400 crore but sources said that its current value lies between Rs 475 and Rs 500 crore.

One would imagine that with a famous five-star hotel on the block, the entire hospitality sector would be abuzz with anticipation. Perhaps this is how the hotel came upon the emails that contained payment instructions for the sale.

On Wednesday, the hotel issued a public notice in Mumbai which read as follows, “Our attention has been drawn by certain members of the public that they have received communication through e-mails for investment/rental schemes and other such offers in relation to Hilton Mumbai International Airport situated at Andheri East, Mumbai, owned by BD&P Hotels (India) Private Limited and they were told to make cash deposits in certain specified banks and that we have purportedly entered into some arrangement or memorandum of understanding with one Mr Bijay Kumar Virani and/or Shree Ram Autoworld Private Limited of which Virani is a director.”

The notice went on to state that there was no such arrangement with Virani or his company, and that the emails were sent with the intention of defrauding the public. In an emailed response to this newspaper, DB Realty, which owns the hotel, said that both Virani and Shree Ram Auto World Private Limited had offered an unconditional apology, and there would soon be a public notice in this regard. However, the group did not mention whether they intended to register a police complaint in the matter.

The following day, Virani published a notice in Ahmedabad, stating that there were no arrangements or negotiations between him and BD&P Hotels (India) Private Limited the group running the hotel. “In light of this, we would request you not to deposit any money in any of our bank accounts or take any steps in relation to any scheme or otherwise in relation to the hotel. We sincerely and unconditionally apologise to BD&P Hotels (India) Private Limited and any person/entity connected with the company and the hotel and to the public at large,” the notice concluded.

The other side
Bhavesh Virani, director, Shree Ram Auto World Private Limited said, “We have issued a public notice. We were not making attempts to deceive people. There were negotiations on for buying the hotel, but it didn’t work out, and hence this issue cropped up.” Meanwhile, Bijay Kumar Virani said that it was his fault the issue had arisen, and that was why he issued the notice yesterday.

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